Archive for June, 2011

Twisted by Laurie Halse Andersen

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2011 by Ishrath Farhana

It starts with a note : this is not a book for children.

What’s this, some sort of Lemony Snickett gimmick, considering it’s very much a high school story. That’s before the progress in the sex, violence and language issues.

Nerdy Tyler Miller, “the pimple on the bottom” of the popular crowd spray-paints his high school at the end of his junior year and gets caught. Mandatory community service for defacing public property means hard manual labor with the janitors. Muscles, suntan and a growth spurt later, Tyler starts senior year and catches the eye of  “alpha female”  Bethany Millbury. When naked photos of Bethany are posted after a big party, the police head straight for Tyler, and life spirals rapidly downward.

I highly recommend this book for the parents to take note of the cyberbullying issues.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Posted in SF, YA on June 24, 2011 by Ishrath Farhana

I find myself drawn to the Teens section of the library these days for the sheer amount of genre-busting, edgy writing.

While I’d always leaned towards SF, The Hunger Games is no ordinary dystopia because of the sheer grit and emotional resonance of its central characters. I was sucked right in from the first few pages, and spent a blissful day devouring this tale. The plot is pitch perfect, the characters are heartbreaking.

Believe the hype.

The Devil’s Labyrinth by John Saul

Posted in Terrorism, The horror on June 1, 2011 by Ishrath Farhana

The only thing that comes to mind as one wades through this offering from  “the master of macabre” is “Jeez, what was he thinking?!!”

It starts ordinarily enough, with a recently orphaned 15 year old Ryan MacIntyre being sent off to the sinister St Isaac’s Preparatory Academy.  In the labyrinthine catacombs of the church school, a dynamic staff member is having some success performing exorcisms on students.

Everybody loves a good exorcism, but then Father Sebastian Sloane has unearthed an arcane scroll that actually causes demons to possess the victims, and apparently, control them. He and his brother, actually devout Muslims have infiltrated the Catholic clergy, and are on a lone path of rampage to kill the present-day Pope to avenge wrongs committed by the Church on Jewish and Muslim families during the time of the Spanish Inquisition in the 1300s. This involves not only  causing demonic possession of unsuspecting students, but also a mundane suicide bombing to be perpetrated by the zombies during the Pope’s mass. There’s also a mysterious crucifix for moral support, and some requisite maggot consumption.

The most appalling thing about the book  is that it is simultaneously insulting to both Catholics and Muslims.  Arabic words and Islamic prayers are used throughout by the priest who is basically engaged in devil-raising. Arabic  is used by the brainwashed children,  the pious Muslim is unbelievably nursing a grudge that’s 6 centuries old. The most offensive thing here is that the Muslim is engaged in enlisting the aid of hell, and that by connotation, Allah is the devil.  Fatwa, anyone?  To add insult to injury, John Saul preys on the worst stereotype of the terrorist by having the Muslim brothers sew bombs into the surplices of the altar boys to blow up the Pope.  The Christ in the secret chapel is a leering, tortured being. The Church is unable to afford any  peace or consolation to the evil inside its very walls, and the benign old priests who run the place are weak, powerless and effete.

In all, John Saul has laid a dud – a revolting, offensive dud, an insensitive dud, and [the greater crime] a literary dud.